published Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Chattanooga City Council rejects amended East Brainerd strip mall plan

Chattanooga City Hall
Chattanooga City Hall
Meghan Brown
OTHER COUNCIL BUSINESS

• City Council voted to move to next week an ordinance that would update the city's purchasing contracts related to bids. Officials also removed the resolution to update the city's entire purchasing manual to work on new language. Officials said the changes would help the city better contract with minority and women owned businesses.

• City Council also gave Multicultural Affairs the green light to accept a $500 donation from Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Co. to support human rights and fair housing education programs.

• City Council also authorized the police department to enter an agreement with CrimeView for new dashboards for $36,000.

• City Council authorized the city to enter an agreement with Hamilton County and Hamilton County 911 to update county addresses. The city will pay for a third of the project for $307,884.

A local developer was shut down Tuesday night by a City Council 6-2 vote to expand his upscale strip mall in East Brainerd to include a restaurant.

Matt Hullander, owner of Hullco Exteriors, asked officials to amend one of his 17 conditions that he and the neighborhood agreed to in 2012 when he first built The Pavilion on East Brainerd Road. The amended condition was to allow him to lease one of his buildings for a restaurant, tea room, sandwich place or coffee shop.

There was an hour of back-and-forth debate with officials and residents in the neighborhood that were split, as well as confusion on the council over two similar ordinances.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency had recommended the amendment be denied, while the planning staff recommended it should be approved with more conditions, including size and hours of operation.

So the council put two ordinances on the agenda. But when the first was voted down, both measures died.

Then residents were split. There were two petitions that circulated to the council, one in favor and one against.

But Councilman Moses Freeman pointed out that some in favor of the expansion didn't live in the neighborhood and he said that was misleading. But Hullander said some who signed worked in the area.

Then when Councilwoman Carol Berz asked those who lived in the neighborhood and were opposed to stand about two dozen people rose. They outnumbered those in favor of a restaurant who actually lived in the neighborhood.

Those opposed cited noise, smell and the possible added traffic. One resident called the neighborhood behind Panorama Drive and East Brainerd peaceful.

Council members who opposed the ordinance said they felt like more residents were against the expansion and that Hullander was going back on his promise not to put in a restaurant.

"He sold us on his word," said resident Steve Clowdus. "I wish he would keep his word."

But Hullander said that was never a promise he made.

After the vote, Hullander said he didn't understand what he could have done better.

"The system is screwed up," Hullander said. "I was trying to bring another good tax base to the city."

Freeman said he wasn't opposed to a new business, but he thought more residents should have been on board with the idea and Hullander should have done a better job explaining that he wanted a small, quiet restaurant.

Councilman Chip Henderson, who acted as chairman in Yusuf Hakeem's absence, said he would have voted to amend the condition. But because Freeman first voted to deny the ordinance altogether he couldn't vote on the amended ordinance. Councilmen Ken Smith and Jerry Mitchell voted against quashing the ordinance.

Officials said Hullander will have to wait nine months to make the same proposal again.

But Hullander, whose been approached by multiple business owners, will look for other tenants.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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